Florida, to many of us in the UK, is a holiday destination known for its theme parks, beaches, all-you-can-eat buffets and outlet malls. In rap music, it has spawned the party-heavy Miami bass sound with (Uncle) Luke and 2 Live Crew, and more recently is known for the Miami Vice-inspired rhymes of Rick Ross.
But a new generation of the region’s rappers have been telling a different story. Artists like Denzel Curry, SpaceGhostPurrp, Robb Bank$ and Yung Simmie are showing another side to the state: a place where an innocent kid in a hoodie, carrying an iced tea and a packet of Skittles, can be gunned down with no consequence to the shooter.
"People wouldn’t want to come here if they seen the dark side first and not the good side,” says the 19-year-old Curry. “So they make sure they show the good side. You wouldn’t really expect there to be ghettos and all that here, but this is the home of [homicide investigation documentary series] The First 48.”
Curry is the man behind the underground hit ‘Threatz’. He independently released his debut album ‘Nostalgic 64’ in September 2013, and his profile hasn’t stopped growing since. He has just returned to Florida from a trip to London, his first time leaving the US.
“I liked the energy,” he says of his time in Britain. “I liked the scene. I liked the way people reacted when they heard my music, because it reminds them of grime. It was very rainy though, but other than that I liked the vibe of it.”
He first discovered grime prior to his visit, when his homie Freebase put him onto it around a year ago. He cites Dizzee Rascal as one of his favourite grime MCs and has recently been taking influences from the genre, evidenced by the rapid-fire flows that exist in his own music. “There’s a different pattern,” he explains. “It's very unorthodox, but it’s very good.”